Sure, there’s nothing wrong with visiting the UK capital in the autumn or winter months – there’s so much to see and do in the city – but there surely can no be question that to find yourself on a short-break in London during spring or summer means you’re truly in for a treat. The place really does come alive and look its best on warm, sunshine-drenched days. And here are some of the ways to spend your time best when the capital’s blessed by those glorious golden rays…
Catch a movie screening atop a roof
If you’re a film-lover and eager to mix your celluloid passion with some quality outdoors time in the capital then there can surely be nothing better than an evening spent watching a quality movie among likeminded souls atop one of London’s rooftops as the warm sun sets. Located at four different locations throughout the city (Kensington and Hoxton in the centre, Stratford in the east and Peckham in the south, the Rooftop Film Club will be showing an essential collection of recent big releases and cult favourites and classics throughout the spring and summer. Pop out the popcorn!
Sip cocktails in Kensington
(99 Kensington High Street W8 5SA)
Alternatively, how about whiling away the hours as the sun sets on a balmy summer’s evening in true luxury within the confines of Kensington’s Roof Gardens? Quaffing cocktails and shaking your tail-feather to a DJ’s hip tunes in salubrious, Mediterranean-themed surroundings is what this venue’s all about. A night spent here and you’re bound to feel like a million dollars!
Hang out with the monkeys and more at ZSL
A brilliant day out for all the family especially in the sunny months, ZSL London Zoo’s rightly one of London’s most enduringly popular attractions, featuring everything from big cats to cheeky primates, exotic birds to adorable penguins and fascinating reptiles to irresistible short-clawed otters. Perhaps, best of all, it’s a place that’s just as concerned with conservation of species as it is with showing them off.
Sample the finest gelato at Gelupo
(7 Archer Street W1D 7AU)
Branding itself as serving ‘the finest artisan gelato this side of the Alps’, Gelupo is far from a shrinking violet when it comes to ice cream, but it doesn’t need to be – boy, does it deliver! Ensconced in the heart of Soho, very near Piccadilly Circus (thus, the perfect place to pop into on a hot summer’s day should you be staying at the Piccadilly London West End hotel), Gelupo serves up ice cream in flavours varying from burnt caramel to tiramisu and blood orange sherbet to chocolate with cinnamon and chilli. There’s also an outlet in Cambridge Circus.
Fit in a fitness class in a park
Another way to spend your time in the London sun is one that may not automatically come to mind (not least if you’ve come to the capital to get away from it all), but to say it’s a healthy, satisfying way to pass an afternoon is putting it mildly. To wit, how about spending an hour in one of the many fine London parks – Shoreditch Park, Finsbury Park, Richmond Park or Wandsworth Common – led by a British military fitness instructor in a class comprising cardio and strength training via push-ups, squats, a touch of running and competitive games? Or you could equally do your body a favour, of course, by checking into a West End spa for the afternoon.
Enjoy the Primrose Hill panorama
(Primrose Hill Road NW3 3NA)
If that sounds a little too strenuous for your tastes, what about this instead? Like all of London’s areas of green natural beauty, this spot just north of the centre’s enormously popular on a warm, sunny day – not least because the views of the city to the south it offers are quite the sight to behold. Perfect for partaking in ball games with the kids, plopping yourself down on the grass for a family picnic or just perching yourself on a park bench and watching the world go by, it’s an irresistible destination when London’s summer’s truly hot.
Buy lunch at Borough Market
(8 Southwark Street SE1 1TL)
Here’s a warm morning or afternoon’s activity that’s food for thought, all right; what better than to wander around stall after stall in one of the most marvellously aromatic and delicious delicacy-packed of all of London’s outdoor markets? Yes, stopping off to buy an indulgent lunch at Borough Market (just down the road from London Bridge) is the way to spoil yourself on a visit to the capital – especially if you’re an unashamed foodie. Every cuisine you can imagine is catered for thanks to all its artisan outlets. A word to the wise, though, be aware that the place is a huge tourist trap at the weekends!
Take a dip in a Hampstead Heath pond
Finally, here’s the ultimate – if somewhat off-kilter – way to cool off on a piping hot London summer’s day. The fabulous Hampstead Heath (which looks glorious whatever the time of year) offers up three ponds available for open-water swimmers – a ladies’ only one, a men’s only one and a unisex one. The first two are open every day of the year and especially popular with locals come the summer as they’re properly life-guarded. So, are you up for dipping you toe – or even diving – in?